Written By: Mark Armstrong
(Read the original version on Pro Wrestling Journal at http://prowrestlingjournal.com/index.php/2018/06/18/wwe-money-in-the-bank-2018-review-analysis-06-17-2018/.)
Money In The Bank is usually one of the better Pay-Per-Views on WWE’s calendar, not least because of the MITB Ladder matches themselves which have created countless memorable moments down the years. Would MITB 2018 provide fans with another night to remember?
Kick-Off Show: SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
The Bludgeon Brothers (C) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Though the build for this match was minimal, and despite its Kick-Off Show placement, the Chicago crowd was well into this one. Gallows and Anderson controlled the early going, but The Bludgeons took over after mowing through The Good Brothers at ringside. Gallows eventually got the hot tag, and when Harper tried to suplex big LG, Anderson helped Gallows to hoist him up for the Magic Killer. But a Rowan tackle took down Anderson, and the double powerbomb was enough to finish Gallows, allowing The Bludgeons to retain their titles.
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
This was a rematch from Backlash, where Bryan was victorious but was attacked by Cass after the bout. Longer and superior to their previous PPV showdown, this featured several big spots including Cass catching a running Daniel with a sidewalk slam, a flying clothesline off the top rope by Bryan to Cass at ringside, and the seven-footer nailing DBryan with a fallaway slam from the middle rope, as well as Bryan again targeting the surgically-repaired left leg of Cass. It looked like a win for the heel via a big boot, but after kicking out, Bryan rebounded with the running knee and a heel hook for the submission victory.
Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn
This was set up by a rivalry which is likely to appear on WrestleCrap lists in the years to come. Zayn avoided Lashley as much as possible early on, refusing to enter the ring until he was able to catch Lashley at a vulnerable moment so that he could unleash offence. Sami controlled the match for a surprising amount of time, but once Lashley took over, he dominated (no pun intended) right through to the finish, with three vertical suplexes (along with torture rack submissions to break each suplex up) for the pinfall win. Hopefully, that marks the end of this feud, which had at times been painful to watch.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Elias
Some straight-forward exchanges of submission holds were halted when Rollins entered second gear with a plancha to the floor and a top rope clothesline. But Elias fought back with a big clothesline from the apron, and he maintained control with a hard DDT to the defending champion. Rollins changed the tide of the match with a slingblade, a suicide dive and a blockbuster, but Elias kicked out on two. Seth’s knee buckled off an attempted flying attack, allowing Elias to hit a high knee of his own for two. Despite the bad knee, Seth attempted a frog splash (which Elias blocked) and hit his top rope suplex/falcon arrow combo. Swatting aside a suicide dive, Elias continuously tossed Rollins around ringside and hit a top rope elbow for 2 7/8. The challenger looked to hit Drift Away for the win, but an exchange of roll-ups culminated in Seth pinning Elias (with a handful of tights) to retain the gold. A slow starter, but this ended up being a very good match, probably Elias’ best bout to date (thanks to his opponent, of course).
Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Sasha Banks vs. Ember Moon vs. Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Lana
There are too many spots to recall here, but needless to say that this was an awesome bout, far better than the women’s MITB match from last year. Every female had a chance to shine, including Lana who actually looked really good here. It also looked like everybody from Naomi to Charlotte were going to unhook the MITB briefcase, and Becky Lynch in particular came agonisingly close to clinching the victory, only for Alexa Bliss to tip the ladder up, sending Lynch to the canvas. This allowed Alexa to scale the ladder and claim the win to become Miss Money In The Bank. The chances of her waiting for over nine months to cash in the briefcase a la Carmella seemed rather low. Notice that I said “seemed”.
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
Sunil Singh showed up to introduce Jinder in a wheelchair, all banged up from a (tame) beating from Roman on Raw (Singh had a neck brace on, which somehow yet amusingly saw him struggle to roll his R’s when announcing the “Modern-Day Maharrrrrrrraja”). If you expected fans in Chicago to boo this match out of the building, respond with a ton of chants unrelated to the performers in the ring or start tossing around a beachball or two … well, you thought right, as it starts to become easier to watch Reigns matches on PPV in mute. Match quality was what you would expect from a Mahal bout: competent but unspectacular. More notable than Mahal was Singh, who suddenly came out of his wheelchair to push Roman into the post, and later took another beating for his troubles. Reigns wrapped things up with a Spear on Jinder for the three-count.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Carmella (C) vs. Asuka
The concerning thing going into this match wasn’t the huge contrast in ability between the two, but that many were expecting the once-invincible Asuka to lose again. Not unlike Sami Zayn earlier, Carmella largely stalled early on, in between taking some kicks from the challenger, but the defending champion grabbed Asuka’s arm to drive her into the post, and resultant submissions allowed Carmella to stay in control. Asuka rebounded with a kneebar followed by her signature strikes, though Carmella hit a dive through the ropes for a two-count. Then, “someone” dressed as Asuka appeared on the apron; it was the returning James Ellsworth (online ‘rumours’ spoiled this surprise), and Carmella struck with a superkick to pin Asuka and officially kill any chance that the Empress Of Tomorrow can regain her momentum at any point in the future. This was better than Carmella vs. Charlotte at Backlash, but not by much.
WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match
AJ Styles (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
If a WWE Title match takes place on four supershows yet it doesn’t headline one of them, that is not a good sign. That aside, this LMS clash seemed destined to be the blow-off for this long-running rivalry, and so it transpired. It was a typical WWE weapons-based main event with the two men up the aisle, fighting through the crowd, into the ring and back to ringside. Nakamura caught AJ with a low blow and a Kinshasa at ringside, but when he lined up for another running knee, AJ caught him with a Phenomenal Forearm off an announcers table and a painful-looking Styles Clash on the bottom section of the steel stairs. Shinsuke demands that AJ “COME ON!” Styles responded with a boot to the balls and another Phenomenal Forearm sending Nakamura through one of the announcer’s tables to earn himself the victory in a hellacious fight, which ends their somewhat disappointing feud on a high note.
Raw Women’s Championship Match
Nia Jax (C) vs. Ronda Rousey
Nia pounded Ronda at the beginning by tossing her around the ring and squashing her into the corner multiple times. Jax looked to end it early with a Samoan Drop, but Rousey tried to reverse it by locking in the armbar. Jax countered by slamming Ronda down powerbomb-style, and rammed Rousey (who was in a hurricanrana position) into the barricade. The dominance for Nia continued with a gorilla press slam for two. A guillotine by Rousey slowed Nia down, but only momentarily; Jax soon hit a huge Samoan Drop for a close near-fall. An armbar wrapped through the ropes gave Rousey some hope, as did a top rope crossbody. From there, Ronda began to make a real comeback with punches, a high knee and a scary-looking judo throw. Another huge throw allowed Ronda to try again for the armbar, which she was about to lock in … only for Alexa Bliss to whack Rousey with her MITB briefcase! Ronda won by disqualification, but Alexa continued to attack her and Jax with the case. That set the stage for Alexa to cash in the contract that she had won earlier on in the night …
Raw Women’s Championship Match
Nia Jax (C) vs. Alexa Bliss
A low DDT was followed by Twisted Bliss, crowning Alexa as the new Raw Women’s Champion! Capitalising on the assault by Ronda Rousey, Bliss picked the precise moment to cash in her newly-won case and left Chicago with gold. I guess we’re gonna see Alexa vs. Ronda at SummerSlam, then?
Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Bálor vs. Bobby Roode vs. Samoa Joe vs. The Miz vs. Rusev vs. Kofi Kingston
It was only right beforehand that The New Day revealed it would be Kofi Kingston entering this match. Everybody ganged up on Braun at the start, eventually piling him under ladders at the top of the aisle. Of the remaining participants, there were a variety of spots, including Bálor hitting a senton onto all of his opponents (with Kofi having just been caught off an attempted trust fall). Strowman tried to return to the match, but he was back-pedalled up the aisle, though it eventually led to him throwing Owens off a huge ladder through a table on the floor! Braun then ran back down the aisle and right through a ladder being held by Rusev and Roode!
From there, the various attempts by different competitors to actually retrieve the briefcase began, along with other cool moments such as a Coup De Grace from Finn off a ringside ladder onto Roode in the ring. In the end, Strowman climbed a ladder with Kofi on his back, punched Finn off the other side and then hurled Kingston down to the mat. Braun then essentially ripped the briefcase from the hook to win the match and become the largest ever holder of the Money In The Bank briefcase!
Judging the show as a whole, Money In Bank was a lot of fun, probably the best all-round PPV so far this year. Both of the Ladder matches were very good, the Last Man Standing bout was thrilling, and the under card had some strong outings, not to mention a number of surprises throughout the show. Admittedly, I hated seeing Asuka lose whatever momentum she still had, and the crowd made Roman vs. Jinder impossible to enjoy on its own merits. But overall, MITB was a big improvement on Backlash, and having tied up several big rivalries, it sets the stage for a busy summer season for WWE.